'Bachelorette' Finale Preview: Most 'Unpredictable' Yet
This season of ABC's "The Bachelorette" hasn't wanted for surprises. They haven't always been Earth-shaking, and one was even one big bait-and-switch tease of a letdown, but Emily Maynard has set herself apart from all the single ladies.
For starters, there's the fact that Maynard's patience and tolerance for bulls**t from the man-herd has been consistently left set at "Not A Single F**k given." Sure, she's barely hesitated several times to tell would-be suitors - especially ones like Kalon who looked down upon her putting her eight-year-old daughter Ricki first - that they can tell their stories walking. Even in other instances, she didn't waste a moment denying one-on-one roses when a man just didn't set off immediate sparks.
They're all the more the indicators that truly, Jef Holm and Arie Luyendyk Jr. have earned every moment of the deep feelings fostered between themselves and the single mother who previously won an inevitably failed relationship with former two-time "Bachelor" Brad Womack. Ultimately, it all comes down to July 22.
Host Chris Harrison told People recently that in seven previous seasons, there's never been a finale this fraught with emotion - or ending with such a shocking ultimate decision. Maynard came into the finish line between Holm and Luyendyk with a plan neither probably wanted to hear, especially not kid-loving Holm: neither would meet her daughter, and she wouldn't walk away with a ring on her finger.
With Holm in particular, slow-and-steady was a risky proposition to win the race, but going against the grain ultimately brought him to The Dance.
"There were positives and negatives to both and holes in each relationship. Arie and Jef have gotten to the same place but from completely different routes," the host explained. "She was curious why [Jef] was playing hard to get. They had a very slow burn, but it was deep and grew leaps and bounds every week eventually passing others. He makes her laugh and she's at ease around him, but he's also young and playful and she is looking for a man and a father for Ricki."
Luyendyk, on the other hand? Well, remember that aforementioned bait-and-switch marketing?
Early in the season, the blonde Georgia-born country spark plug shot the equal to a warning shot past Luyendyk's ear, shunting him down to the Rose Ceremony final two when he failed to give her a heads-up about Kalon's disrespectful comments about considering Emily's daughter Ricki a "compromise."
Then came Maynard and Luyendyk in their debut one-act play, "The Producer." ABC spent weeks building up imminent fireworks amid the pair's one-on-one date in Prague when a "Bachelorette" producer opened up that years earlier, she'd had a brief, fruitless relationship with Luyendyk that he'd never mentioned. What did fans get? An expository synopsis by Harrison, an on-camera interview between Maynard and the producer herself shot during the date, then Harrison explaining that the three talked calmly off-camera and everything was left all sunshine, rainbows and popcorn farts.
Once he survived that, it was all but guaranteed Luyendyk's crammed-up-his-nethers horseshoe would indeed carry him right into the final two.
"They couldn't keep their hands off each other," Harrison said. "I know women across America are saying he needs to get kissing lessons, but it apparently worked for her. Then they started to get to know each other, realized they liked each other and it grew on the emotional plain. They've had this great romance, but is there more to them than making out? Can he offer the deep soulful love that Jef does? And are either of them truly ready to step into her daily life with Ricki and be a dad?"
Maynard ended the show happy, with no regrets about returning to the franchise, Harrison said. Still, Harrison admitted he and the show's crew entered the finale with no idea what to expect for the first time all season.
"Usually by this point, we pretty much know what's going to happen," he explained. "Even the audience has a pretty good feeling by the finale but when she let Chris go was the last rose ceremony where I could see the writing on the wall. I thought, 'We've done our job too well, found three great, good-looking, successful guys who fell in love with her and would be a good fit and now she might not settle on either.' I thought it could be a disaster."
As a plus, he's also pleased ABC is finally going with a live format for the subsequent "After The Final Rose" special following the finale.
"I've been begging them to do it live for years to give it that Super Bowl feel and because they finally gave in, I'll get to give the fans the most up-to-date information on what's happening with her and the guys," Harrison said. "Things will happen that I have no idea how they will turn out. It's an emotional and combustible finale that will lead into an unpredictable, emotional and shocking 'Final Rose' special."
Need a refresher before all the questions are answered? Gotcha covered. Head over to Yidio's "The Bachelorette" show page and relive every tear-jerking melodrama moment from the eighth season.